Q&A with Halliday

Fast Five: Samantha Payne

By J'aime Cardillo

15 Apr, 2023

In this series, we ask industry members to share the five drinks that shaped their lives.

Samantha Payne is a wine consultant, communicator and sommelier. Her speciality is Australian wine and she has spoken about it on various panels nationally and internationally. She is also passionate about sparkling wines and has spent years working with top Champagne houses and sparkling wine producers. Sam also hosts events, consults on wine lists, and writes about wine for various publications. She even hosted a wine video channel; ‘How to Drink Wine with Samantha’.

Samantha PayneSamantha Payne is a Sydney-based is a wine consultant, communicator and sommelier.

01. Penfolds Grange
Multi-Regional, South Australia
Not long after I moved to Sydney, I walked past a ‘help wanted’ sign at my local Vintage Cellars. Thinking it would be a fun part-time job while at uni, I went in. When the manager asked me, “What was the last wine you drank?”, I looked around and clocked a bottle of Penfolds Grange behind the counter. I blurted it out. I was hired, thinking it was because I obviously knew about wine after naming such a famous bottle. Turns out it was because of my quick thinking and obvious enthusiasm for something I knew nothing about.

02. 1994 Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas
Rhône, France
A few years later, and totally infatuated with the world of wine, I became a sommelier. It was in this job as a commis-sommelier at the newly opened Manly Pavilion that I had my first ‘epiphany wine’. It was a 1994 Clape Cornas. I can still vividly remember being shocked and enthralled by its bacon fat and white pepper spice characters. This was the turning point, the moment where I started to understand how much more wine could be – from humble grapes to something that tasted like bacon. I was hooked.

03. 1999 Conterno Monfortino Barolo
Piedmont, Italy
This was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. It was 2012 and I was on my very first overseas wine junket with a bunch of sommeliers. We were sitting in the heart of Barolo in La Morra at the famed Restaurant Bovio on top of the hill. It was truffle season and I had a plate of risotto covered in freshly shaved white truffles and a glass of Barolo from Conterno in my glass. There was a full moon shining outside the window, and the wine was like drinking crushed rose petals that had fallen on rich earth just after a rainstorm.

04. Heiwa Shuzo Yuzushu
Wakayama, Japan
In the wine-adjacent category is the discovery of sake and, in turn, yuzushu. Made with equal parts one-year-old Junmai sake and yuzu juice, this has become a constant staple in my house. There is ALWAYS a bottle in my fridge. It’s midnight deadline fuel, an excellent dinner party aperitif, and the MVP of any post-service nightcap. It’s become my signature, as I’m constantly reminded in group chats by the friends I’ve introduced this floral and perfectly tart drink to. There’s worse things to be known for I guess!

05. 1998 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon P2 Brut Champagne
Epernay, France
There are some wines that need no introduction, so it's no surprise that drinking this bottle of bubbles with a bunch of wine industry friends in 2019 blew my mind. I was swept away by its mushroom, umami, oyster-shell-meets-clementine notes but also because this bottle reminded me of why I love my career and where it has led me. Being able to have access to these back-vintage wines or other curios and sharing them with friends...it makes the constant travel, late-night deadlines, and long hours worth it.

This article appears in issue #70 of Halliday magazineBecome a member to receive the print publication as well as digital access